Big Awful Friday: 'The Swamp Thing' goofy but strong

May 24, 2012 

The Swamp Thing is kind of silly. A monster with all the strength and power of a tree! Watch out, bad guys. You may be on top of the world now, but in another 50 years, you’ll be dead, while Swamp Thing is even taller and leafier than ever.

Like its protagonist, 1982’s The Swamp Thing is pretty goofy, but it’s stronger than I imagined.

In a remote swamp, Dr. Ray Wise is working on combining plant and animal DNA to create a new breed of superfoods. Agent Adrienne Barbeau is sent in to protect him, but it isn’t enough to stop Louis Jordan, who kills Wise and steals his work. But Wise isn’t dead — he’s been transformed into a powerful mutant. And he’ll have his revenge.

The Swamp Thing was made in 1982, but it feels decades older. That’s in part because its footage feels like it was shot from somewhere under a swamp. A yellow-tinged, grainy swamp that is apparently free from all forms of mosquitoes and flies.

Barbeau isn’t exactly a damsel in distress. Her three chief skills appear to be punching, shooting and the stealing of critical information. So if anything, she’s a ninja in distress.

Fortunately, she has Swamp Thing on her side. And Swamp Thing, with his arboreal strength, is a match even for Germanic, Nietzsche-quoting villains bent on global domination.

But as cheesy as it is, writer/director Wes Craven puts some pathos into his wretched hero and his doomed romance with Barbeau. Some of the dialogue’s pretty sharp, too. Something less than a classic, The Swamp Thing is a pretty fun horror flick nonetheless.

* Contact Ed Robertson at edwrobertson@gmail.com.

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